Patrick Trautfield

After being a staple of downtown San Luis Obispo for nearly 20 years, Copeland’s Sports likely will become part of The Sports Authority chain sometime next year.

The Sports Authority, in a joint venture with Hilco Merchant Services and Hilco Real Estate, bought Copeland’s Sports for $22 million. Outside parties will have a chance to buy the company at a higher bid during a proceeding scheduled for today. The sale will become official on Friday, pending bankruptcy court approval.

Copeland’s, which has 20 stores across California, Oregon and Nevada, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August.

Industrial engineering senior Erik Marvik, who acts as vice president of finance for local Central Pacific Ski Club, said he was disappointed to hear of the sale of Copeland’s.

The company coordinated community events with the club and also offered free ski and snowboard tuning to its members. Once a year, the store held an exclusive sale for club members on all its ski and snowboard merchandise.

“It’s a bummer for our members because I know a lot of them look forward to that sale. Snowboarding and skiing are pretty expensive sports. When (Copeland’s) opens the store up for sales anywhere from 20 to 50 percent, that’s huge savings. It allows people to get gear at a lot cheaper if they wouldn’t have been able to afford it,” Marvik said. Central Pacific Ski Club is the second largest ski and snowboard group in the nation with approximately 1,000 members, mostly Cal Poly students.

If the sale becomes official, The Sports Authority will run the operations of each of Copeland’s stores, said John Brincko, Copeland’s president and chief executive officer. Brincko said The Sports Authority plans to retain current Copeland’s employees, but added he wasn’t sure if any of Copeland’s stores would be closed as result of the sale.

“(The sale) will preserve the legacy of Copeland’s in another form and continue to service the needs of people of San Luis Obispo,” said Brincko, who replaced family owners Mike, Tom and Jim Copeland in September to guide the company’s turnaround.

Brincko said Copeland’s Sports’ sales were hurt after key vendors Nike and Titleist stopped shipping to the company after it filed for bankruptcy. He said that factor, in addition to the amount of money offered, made the sale attractive.

Chamber of Commerce president and CEO David Garth said that while he’s sad to see Copeland’s leave, he’s pleased that a sporting goods store will remain in some form at 1144 Chorro St.

“Copeland’s has done a lot for downtown. The name of Copeland’s has been synonymous with San Luis Obispo for many years. From that point of view we’re sad about it.

“We’re just happy that they’re going to keep the store open and it will continue to be an anchor of downtown,” Garth said.

Cal Poly alumnus William McKee, who shopped at Copeland’s on Tuesday, said he prefers a change in ownership to the store going out of business completely.

“If (Copeland’s) can’t get themselves out of the situation, what are they going to do?” he said.

Fellow shopper Gladys Marigny expressed similar sentiments: “I would rather support smaller stores than a big chain, but at this point what can they do?”

The Sports Authority, based in Colorado, operates 400 stores in 45 states across America.

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